Small bathroom layout ideas: How to create the perfect layout

Squeeze every drop out of your bijou bathroom with these space-saving tricks

The average bathroom often isn’t much bigger than a king-size bed, yet it’s one of the hardest working spaces in the home. It’s usually where we begin and end the day, from kickstarting the chaotic morning routine to winding down in the evening, so it’s got to be blissful as well as super functional. For many of us, this also means the dream situation is to have a shower AND a bath, yet this isn’t always easy to achieve in a small bathroom layout. On top of that, there’s sanitaryware, storage, drainage, lighting, heating and hardware, all to cram into one tiny room, so spending time planning your space down to the last square-inch will pay dividends. Read on for our top tips on designing the perfect small bathroom layout.

Where do I start?

Decide which camp you sit in – are you a serial soaker or do you prefer a good drenching? This will largely determine your layout. For bath-lovers, dedicating the space to a fabulous freestanding design with a bath-shower mixer might be best, or a shower-bath combo if you want the best of both worlds. If you rarely take a dip, go for a wetroom. They feel gloriously spacious and seamless without enclosures or trays, but it’s a pricier option as you have to tank the space to make it waterproof. A shower room is the go-to if the budget is tight.

Once you’ve decided on the key pieces you want to include, sketch out your floor plan and cut out the elements to scale to play around with a layout that works best, although you might find there’s not much wiggle room. “Often with small spaces, your furniture only sits in a certain arrangement and you don’t always have an option to move things around,” says Gwendoline Alderton of GA Interiors. “There are limitations – the bath will always need to sit across the longest wall and the toilet close to the drain.” Design director Sophie Schofield of Ribble Valley Bathrooms agrees. “The most important starting point is accepting the reality of the space and choosing fixtures, fittings and furniture that best suit the dimensions and will maximise the space.”

How can I save space?

(Image credit: Oliver Perrott)

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Short of playing tetris with your sanitaryware, there are clever ways to claw back precious floor space by being savvy with the designs you pick. “There are plenty of small-scale products that are specifically designed for tiny bathrooms that can help create the illusion of space, while also providing the functionality you crave,” says Imperial Bathrooms’ creative director James Stevenson “Using short-projection ceramic ware and slim-line furniture is a clever way to reclaim a few extra inches. Wall-hung vanities offer a practical solution that don’t impose on the surroundings, and corner vanities are a godsend when you’re faced with a tight space that has the added complication of being an awkward shape.”

If you’ve got the extra challenge of working with sloping ceilings, use your head – suspend basins or loos from the low-level walls, saving the full ceiling height for precious shower space and make the most of eaves by incorporating storage.

It’s the little things that can make a big difference too. “Mirrored storage works wonders in small bathrooms because it serves a dual purpose – it creates the illusion of space as well as being super functional,” says interior designer Emily Rickard. “Also fit a towel rail over the top of your radiator, not in a separate spot, and always factor in shower niches. A wet-room style layout with shower screen saves space on shower doors needing to open and close.”

Small bathroom layout ideas

1. Step up your game

When working with a super-narrow space, think outside the box – interior designer Lizzie Green flipped the bath lengthways to sit behind the shower in this tight 1.2m-wide bathroom. “Placing the step up to the wet-room space allowed us to get away without using a shower tray so all the pipework was hidden away neatly underneath,” says Green. As a bonus, the tub has a tree-lined view, providing the perfect backdrop for a relaxing soak.

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2. Work every angle

Don’t try to shoehorn standard fittings into an awkward layout – embrace its quirks to maximise space. This dinky bathroom designed by Shapeless Studio had an odd lopsided layout, so the team created a custom triangular vanity unit to ensure it didn’t protrude into the space. A bespoke corner medicine cabinet and secret cupboard to the left provide ample storage for the family.

See Also:30 chic and clever bathroom mirror ideas

3. Build in secret storage

Blessed with tall ceilings? Take advantage by incorporating hidden storage behind doors disguised as panelling. “If you can recess medicine cabinets into adjacent walls it’s a good way to save precious floor space,” says interior designer Caroline Cobbold, who utilised either side of the bath to house toiletries and towels in this scheme.

See Also:Cool and Clever Bathroom Storage Ideas

4. Break down barriers

If you’re designing a small bathroom as part of a master suite, don’t box it in. Max out the space available by removing walls and replace them with on-trend fluted glass panels instead. “Using glazed partitions lets in plenty of natural light, but still allows an element of privacy,” says designer Krystyna Martin-Dominguez. “A half-height stud wall cleverly conceals plumbing and a compact tub saves space and water.”

See Also:The best Crittall style shower screens

5. Wrap it up

When working with a small bathroom floor plan, wall-hung furniture is often a go-to solution. “Design storage units that float,” says Beth Dadswell of Imperfect Interiors. “This maximises the feeling of space as it leaves the floor free, which also makes it easier to clean as a bonus.” This wrap-around vanity unit with handleless drawers effortlessly hides chargers and bathroom essentials, while shallow shelves show off prettier lotions and potions.

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6. Rethink your door

Replacing a hinged door can work wonders in a small bathroom layout – usually they swing into the bathroom, restricting where you can place your sanitaryware or shower. A slick pocket door or bi-fold design will free up valuable wall space and avoids awkward clashes with a shower door.

7. Maximise eaves space

Eaves are notoriously tricky spaces, but with a bit of clever planning, they can actually be turned into a chic space. A bath-shower combo is an excellent choice, with the shower at the tallest point, and a bath making use of the full width at the bottom. “Bespoke angular shower screens are pricey, so a super-short bespoke shower curtain rail is a great solution – it also makes it easier to jump out the shower,” says designer Naomi Astley Clarke.

See Also:Beautiful Bathroom Tile Ideas

8. Divide and conquer

(Image credit: Adeilna Iliev Photography)

Try using a shower screen as a second wall – by splitting the shower partition into part wall, part glass, there’s suddenly an opportunity to hang sanitaryware on the other side of the shower. Ceiling-mounted mirrors are a genius finishing touch in this design by McCrum Interior Design.

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9. Work around what you’ve got

Often planning a layout involves maneuvering around existing features and hiding unsightly practical elements. This former utility room has been completely transformed by Syte Architects into a chic shower space, with the boiler and services all cleverly tucked behind a band of high-level cupboards. Two granite-lined recesses are the focal point, one incorporating an existing window and the other a mirrored vanity unit.

10. Cut corners

While curved shower units are ideal for small bathroom layouts they can sometimes look a bit naff, so snip the corner off a rectangular design and ditch the door for a stylish alternative. This super-slick solution from General Assembly was designed to allow for more elbow room at the sink and the whole floor slopes to the drain, allowing for a continuous tiled floor.